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James  H.  Loftis

 

Personal Legacy
JAMES H. LOFTIS
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

January 11, 1988

Dear Will:

I was one of the control tower operators at Shipdham from September 1943 until we came home in June 1945.

I was in the 50th Station Complement Squadron attached to the 44th Bomb Group.

The story in the December 1987 issue of the 44th Logbook about the mission to Norway about Lt. Griffith's return to base, I was on duty in the tower that day when he returned. He made the best landing on one wheel as you could make.

The call sign for the tower was "Pathway" and I remember the call sign for three of the squadron but can't remember the fourth. The 66th was "Smokey Blue." The 67th was "Backward," and can't remember the 68th's. The 506th was "Drivel." Maybe you can put these in the next newsletter.

I would like a picture of the control now if someone that went over lately has one.

I remember General Johnson and all the base and squadron commanders as they came to the tower all the time. A Major (Clifford T.) Lee from Mobile, Alabama was my boss.

I have fond memories and some sad ones while overseas with the 44th Bomb Group.

I am retired since May 1982 after 40 year's working on the railroad.

Sincerely,

James H. Loftis
129 McGowan Ave
Abbeville, SC 29620


January 29, 1988

Dear Will:

Thank you very much for the pictures of the control tower. I know it has been a long time since we used it, but it makes me sad to see the condition it is in.

I did not put this squadron call sign down because I was not positive it is right, but I believe the other call sign was "Onward." These are the four I am pretty sure I know three are right, but I believe are correct.

66 - Onward
67 - Backward
68 - Smoke Blue
506 - Drival

You may use my letter if you like and thanks again.

J. H. Loftis



JAMES H. LOFTIS
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

Dear Will:

After reading Fireman B. Mack's story in August issue of 44th HG Book about Col. Snavely's remark and then calling him in and giving him a candy bar.

Colonel Snavely was base commander after they put me and radio operator on top of tower with glass around our office. When planes came back off a mission, I still stood outside where I could see all around.

Planes came and were landing between 1430 and 1500. Col. Snavely was standing beside me and he would get excited. He thought the planes were too close on final approach. He took the mike and told the pilots.

This one pilot says, "I will back the son of a bitch up if you want me to." Snavely said, "Who said that." No answer. I told pilots they were all right, just to keep moving. When they hit the ground they answered, "Roger will do pathway." Col. Snavely then took the mike and says, "I will be in my office at 1600 hours and I want the pilot that said that smart remark to meet me there."

I never did get enough nerve to ask the colonel if anyone showed up.

I will tell you a story about Col. Gibson and an inspector general some time. It was not bad.

J. H. Loftis

***
December 13, 1988

Dear Will:

I meant to have written you a story about Col. Snavely for the December logbook, but didn't get it written.

David Morgan and I have exchanged two letters. He sent me some pictures of the control tower as it is today and some other pictures. He would like to have had some of the tower inside and out but I did not have any. I did not have a camera when I was over there.

I received two letters from Forrest S. Clark who was a gunner on Lt. R. C. Griffith's plane when the crew bailed out and the plane landed with the wounded gunner.

I also received a letter from a widow of one of the men that was at Shipdham.

I did not keep in touch with other two control tower operators as we were never together only saw each other as we relieved each other. One of them was John J. Shelvin, 1358 Morris Ave, Bronx, New York, and the other was a boy by the name, I think, Prosenjak or something in this order.

Did you have a Squadron Commander by the name of Maj. Kohler (67th)?

I will close now. Hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Yours truly,

J. H. Loftis

P.S. Enjoy logbook so much and I will send story along if you would like to publish it.



JAMES H. LOFTIS
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

January 7, 1992

Dear Will:

Since I was tower operator in that building from September 1943 till June 1945, I wish to make a donation towards repairing it.

Have lot of memories about that place and the people I came in contact with. I suppose in my job I talked with base commanders, squadron CO's, and pilots from all the squadrons. The joys and sadness that happened can't be equaled.

I really enjoy the Logbook. I am writing a letter regarding one that was in an early Logbook.

Hoping you have a Happy New Year.

James H. Loftis




JAMES H. LOFTIS
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
[Tower work]
125 McGowan Ave.
Abbeville, SC 29620-2035
29 March 1989

Dear Will:

Received my 44th Logbook yesterday and read it through without stopping. Enjoyed what you are doing so much. It is good to walk through the back road of our memory.

About the picture of the small plane shown on page 22 under caption "Memories." I believe I can tell you about this. It is an L-5 airplane that was used by the Army for recognizance. A general landed at the base one afternoon, while I was on duty in the tower, to visit someone he knew on the base. A command car picked him up. He did not come to the tower.

While he was visiting, the weather station put out a bad weather notice.

Major Lee had a first lieutenant from Pennsylvania as assistant tower officer who was on duty this day. Can't remember his name right off. He called upstairs and told me if the General did not come by the tower before going to his plane, not to let him take off before he gave him a message.

When the General went to his small plane, I told the Lt. He sent the radio Jeep to tell the General he could not take off. The General told the Jeep driver that no 1st Lt. was telling no General what he could do. He was going. The Jeep driver came to the tower and told the Lt. what the General said. Lt. Says, "Tell the General it is his ass if he wishes to lose it to go ahead." He really didn't mean for the Jeep driver to use these words but he told the General exactly what the Lt. said.

The General said, "If the Lt. feels that way about it, he will spend the night. Shut off the plane's engine. He got in command car and drove off. He left the next day.

This is only a small plane that landed at the base while I was on duty in the tower.

I have a picture like the one on the right side of the photo. I believe that was taken in 1944 in August.

I don't know where the small plane came from or was going back to as we had no radio contact with it. When he landed, he landed on the grass part of the field.

Yours truly, J. H. Loftis -- P.S. I will send you another story soon.
 
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